How environmental activists work to keep the poor, poor.
Environmental non-governmental organizations (eNGOs) loudly proclaim biotechnology and genetically modified (GM) crops provide no benefits. These eNGOs exhibit no moral conflict in proclaiming themselves the true stewards of land and nature, protectors of all that sustains humanity, while denying subsistence farmers access to GM crops, which could help feed themselves and their families. eNGOs actively oppose sustainable farming and crop production technologies around the world, ignore scientific evidence and out-and-out lie to society in a desperate attempt to deny developing country farmers the opportunity to improve their livelihoods. Why?
The political and social appeals of eNGOs, these self-proclaimed ‘stewards of nature,’ garner millions of dollars – money used to oppose the true champions of sustainability: farmers.
Environmental activism is big business. Consider that in 2013-14, Canada invested $643 million in agri-food bioscience research and development (R&D). This funding supported everything from research on new variety development and biofuels to new food products. Compare this to the nearly $300 million USD spent by 14 environmental organizations in the United States in 2013 alone to fight biotechnology innovations for farmers and consumers. eNGOs spent 48 percent – nearly half – of the total amount invested by Canada in agri-food and bioscience R&D, all to oppose sustainable agricultural innovations.
$300 million. Just think what this might have meant in terms of food security for subsistence farmers in developing countries. If only these eNGOs had invested their vast resources to help develop new crop varieties rather than oppose them.
Lies about GM crops are repeatedly used to manipulate the public into thinking these crops are dangerous. One particularly spurious story still told by the Canadian Biotech Action Network (CBAN) is that GM cotton in India causes farmers to commit suicide. This story was scientifically refuted in 2011, yet four years later, CBAN still actively lies to the Canadian public about this by featuring it on their website.
Why are these self-styled protectors of the environment so in favour of blatantly lying to the public and deliberately misleading consumers? The simple answer is money. Their deceit helps raise millions, if not billions, for their brand of ‘environmental protection’ activities by tricking the public with slick videos and fancy ad campaigns.
The sad reality is well-meaning people are duped into making donations to fight technologies that benefit the environment. Their donations are used to lobby politicians and political parties. This gives eNGOs incredible power as is evident in Europe and most recently Ontario, where activism trumps science in public policy. The true reason environmental groups oppose GM crops is that it contributes to their political power. It has absolutely nothing to do with the science that overwhelmingly supports the benefits of GM technology.
The problem is staggering in scope. Consider: If American eNGOs spend $300 million a year to oppose GM crops, how much do they and their international compatriots spend as a whole? It must indeed be well into multiple billions. It’s a staggering amount of money, mostly spent fighting GM crops and keeping them from subsistence farmers in Africa and Asia, the people who need them the most. These crops not only increase the amount of food farmers produce, but to increase their family incomes. Yet environmental groups continue to openly work to ensure these farmers’ desperate poverty.
It’s pretty easy to oppose technology to improve food security when you are a fat environmentalist living in Europe or North America. I think it’s high time for eNGOs to be held to account for their hypocrisy. They need to explain why they continue to oppose food security for some of the most vulnerable members of humanity.